Window Seat

As I gazed at the ocean below, the obese man sitting beside me heaved into a regulation sick bag. The nauseous hulk filled a thin beige suit with a white shirt open at the collar. His fair hair was lank and greasy, and his fringe had flopped forward over his eyes, so that with the bag held over his mouth his face was almost entirely obscured.

I looked on helplessly as he coughed and spat. It occurred to me to pull down the window shutter, and I did so quietly. Turning back, I was startled to find the fellow staring up. He was still hunched over, his wide back curved, immensely solid. Yet sitting there clutching his discreet white paper bag with a look of exhaustion and embarrassment, he looked more like an overgrown schoolboy to me: all flustered, pathetically protecting his stash of sweets from a gang of taunting louts.

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